How Leathercraft Nurtures Youth Emotional Health and Development

The Leatherwork Project is a multi-year initiative that began in June 2015 when an owner of a handbag manufacturing company donated scrap leather materials to Across U-hub. This generous donation not only enables Across U-hub to plan programs teaching today’s youth the three-step process of transforming the leather materials into handmade gifts, but also instills important life values among participants.

Leatherwork was incorporated in multiple programs throughout 2015 and 2016. Programs include U-hub Summer Connect, an activity-based program from June – August, the Annual Youth Leadership Training Camp, and Leather Workshop 101 weekly sessions. In addition. some of the products created in these programs were sold at our Annual Fundraising Gala in November as a reflection of cross-generational support from our donors and community partners.

Leatherwork Project embodies three main attitudes, central to the work of Across U-hub.

1. An Attitude of Appreciation (Building Stronger Social Connections)

In today’s world, youth spend a lot of time in the digital world, greatly affecting how they interact with their families and the social world around them. The leatherwork project encourages participants to hand make and deliver gifts to friends and family. It’s through careful preparation, planning, and working with the unforgiving material that the youth and show their heart and care for the people who have had an impact in their lives. When the gift is given, stronger social ties are created between family members and friends.

2. An Attitude of Social Responsibility and Involvement (Upcycling Leather Material)

Not only are stronger social ties created, but the youth will experience a sense of care for the environment and community, since all the pieces were created by upcycling discarded leather material. Youth become more aware of the physical environment around them and a sense of responsibility to take care of the environment and their community develops.

3. An Attitude of Contentment and Accomplishment (Products to be Proud of)

Tiffany Ore, student at Ryerson University studying Early Childhood Studies, is a regular participant at the Leather Workshop 101. She enjoys the workshop because she experiences a “sense of happiness and satisfaction after I got the product done”. She also feels a sense of accomplishment that comes from putting effort and hard work in a product she made herself, and is happy with the outcome, even though sometimes the result is not perfect.

This leatherwork project also hopes to bring youth to the point where they realize “what we possess is actually more than what we need” in the context of their own personal abilities and gifts, but also their physical possessions. The priority is no longer on the gift that’s given, but on the relationship between the gift giver and the recipient (whether the recipient be the youth themselves or others).This attitude is directly in opposition with today’s competitive and materialistic culture. When youth come to this realization, they experience freedom and become more willing to serve their communities with an attitude of humility and joy, rather than from a place of emotional stress and competition.

The Leather Workshop 101 continues every Thursday night at Across U-hub and participants of all ages are welcome to learn about leathercraft, but more importantly, to find appreciation, contentment and a sense of accomplishment through leathercraft.